Coastal GasLink attack: So far no connection to existing protests, RCMP say

Cops investigating the attack on a gas pipeline construction site in northern British Columbia say they are reviewing surveillance video from the scene, but no suspects have yet been identified, and until present, no link with the ongoing protests in the region has been found.

“There is a video that we are actively reviewing, and we will likely be able to release some of this information at some point if it becomes relevant to the investigative team,” said Staff Sgt. the RCMP. Sascha Baldinger in Houston, British Columbia, on Saturday.

Police previously said as many as 20 people were involved in an attack on a Coastal GasLink construction site shortly after midnight on Thursday.

When asked if the police knew exactly who they were investigating, Baldinger said no.

While police called the attack an “escalation” of the ongoing conflict between anti-pipeline protesters and site workers, Baldinger said police had not established any links between those involved in previous clashes. and the last attack.

“Although there have been clashes in the past and there have been active protests in the region, at this stage we have no connection with these events and this current event,” he said. he declares.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

The 670 kilometer Coastal GasLink pipeline has been under construction since 2019 and is expected to be completed next year. Plans are underway to transport natural gas to LNG Canada’s export terminal, also under construction, in Kitimat, British Columbia.

Pipeline owner TC Energy has reached agreements with elected First Nations councils along the pipeline route, but some of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation hereditary chiefs oppose the project, which crosses the territory traditional of the nation.

Environmental activists and Indigenous land defenders have sought to block the construction of the pipeline, and the British Columbia Supreme Court has granted the company an injunction prohibiting protesters from interfering with the company’s construction work .

The investigation into the recent attack is not related to injunction violations, Baldinger said Saturday, noting that acts of vandalism at the construction site were criminal offenses.

Some of the attackers carried axes, and at least one had portable power tools, which were used to open a gate to the site.

After driving off the nine Coastal GasLink workers present at the time, the attackers took control of the construction machinery and used it to cause millions of dollars in damage to the site, police say.

Baldinger said Saturday the RCMP believed she was also the target of the attack. Officers encountered several roadblocks and what Baldinger described as “traps” along the Marten Forest Service Road leading to the construction site.

Constables said in their initial statement about the attack that people threw “smoke bombs” and “light sticks” at officers as they tried to get to the site.

Since the road is the only road for vehicles leading to the construction site, Baldinger was asked why the RCMP were unable to arrest any of those involved at the time of the attack.

“Some of our members have actually sued some of the people they’ve encountered,” he said. “However, due to nightfall and the traps that were set, and one of our members was injured… (The attackers) ended up disappearing into the forest.”

The attack was widely condemned by political leaders in British Columbia and across the country.

On Sunday, Coastal GasLink published an account of the attack from a security guard who was present at the start. The worker, whom the company only identified as ‘Trevor’, called the attack ‘terrifying’, saying the assailants hit his truck with axes and tried to set it alight while he was on the road. inside.

The company said its employees declined requests for media interviews about the attack “due to concerns for their safety and that of their families.”

“Coastal GasLink takes the safety, security and well-being of our people very seriously,” the company said. “Coastal GasLink team members have in the past faced multiple instances of online harassment and threats, and as such, we will respect our workers’ right to privacy and provide support. continuous if necessary.

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